Sid: Thanks for writing in, Chris – you’re asking one of the right guys… I grew up in Mississippi, where it felt like it was pretty much ALWAYS hot, so I’d like to think I have a bit of experience on the subject.
A few things you can consider. One – should I wear a shirt at all?? (laughs) Because if it’s really hot you might just want to go without the shirt. But if you have to show up somewhere where you need to be presentable to other people who don’t want to see you shirtless, you should probably start by considering “do I want a short-sleeved shirt, or go with a long-sleeved and roll ‘em up.”
JB: Tell us what you love about a short-sleeved shirt… it’s sort of classic NASA look for Cape Canaveral guys, yeah?
I grew up around that time, and my Dad and my brother both wore short-sleeved woven shirts in the summer time, and they were usually button-down. My brother had more of an “off the clock” look, but my father – who was a Chemist – was more “on the clock.” Part of that was out of necessity – his job was an indoor/outdoor job. Although maybe the air conditioning wasn’t as dialed up as we keep it here. All I know is that Ann is always freezing in our shared office.
So these days, short-sleeved shirts aren’t as necessary and they’ve turned a little more fun & novel… we have everything from Paisley to Hawaiian print to stripe shirts to plaid shirts. For me, they’re more for knocking around, the weekend, and have a more casual vibe to them. We usually wear ours tucked in, but do your thing. One of our favorite shirts – the Marquez – is a short-sleeved shirt that was made to be worn untucked.
JB: Short-sleeved sport shirts. Good for parties. Or for channeling your inner IBM engineer.
Sid: Now the second consideration is fabric. No matter your sleeve preference, some fabrics are just cooler than others.
I love seersucker. Again, I’m from the South. It is a natural heat-beater – just by virtue of the weave of the shirt. You’ve got the puckered yarn and the flat yarn. And what’s nice about that is it’s corrugated so it never really sticks to you – a natural way to air condition, in a sense. Plus it’s kind of always wrinkled so never wrinkled.
The second fabric I think of is Linen. If it was good enough for ancient Egypt, it’s probably good enough for wherever you are. No explanation needed on this.
The third fabric we love for summer is cellulare which is an old world, Italian fabric. It is fantastic for the heat because it’s almost like a woven, mesh weave – close up it looks like honeycomb, but has some polish to it. Our micro-cellulare is particularly nice if you are dressing UP – for an outdoor wedding or event where you need to put on a jacket – it has become a bit of a favorite for me and for the guys. Again, because of its light-weight quality, the dry hand-feel, and breathability.
JB: Can you wear a cellulare dress shirt as a sport shirt?
Sid: Absolutely. All of our dress shirts you would wear as a sport shirt… just roll the sleeves up. And I should also point out that literally any of these are gonna look cool under a navy blazer, in case you’ve spent your day beating the heat but all the sudden get invited to a cocktail party.
The last shirt is a no-brainer, and no stranger to this column – a Pima Pique Polo shirt. It’s an all-cotton shirt in a knit fabric from Peru. And what’s really nice about it is the openness of the pique knit – the yarns are on the fatter side so it evades sweat and breathes nicely… so much so, our friend Keith Mitchell who plays golf on the Tour (who we recently interviewed here) wears it exclusively. And those guys follow the hot weather for 52 weeks a year! So that’s a pretty good test right there. And lastly – Terry Cloth. Maybe not be the coolest but makes you feel cool.
JB: Okay. The SM heat-beating formula is short-sleeved sport shirts, and leaning into summer fabrics – pique polos included.
Sid: You got it. But one more thing… bandana in back pocket was key in Mississippi for taking care of some sweat. This is great on NYC subway too.
Thanks for writing in, stay cool out there.